20 June 2018

BODY STORIES | GUEST POST BY TABITHA FROM 'THE NORTH LEFT' BLOG



Today is the third installment from my 'Body Stories' series and it is another beautiful one; I am so enjoying reading these as the pop into my inbox and it provides me with so much comfort to know that we all travel similar pathways to one another, which is the reason I wanted to do this series. I have spent so much of my life saying negative things to my own body but looking at other women and being filled with positivity for how they look and it is for that reason that I asked gorgeous ladies to tell their story, because it really opens up the dialogue about how ridiculous we can be to ourselves on a daily basis.

Enough waffle from me and onto today guest post, which comes to you from the beautiful Tabitha, who writes the blog 'The North Left'; her story is so interesting and inspiring too, so please enjoy reading it and then head over to give her some love for sharing it (all her links are at the bottom of her post).

*****

When I read Lucy’s post, ‘learning to love my body’, I related so much I just had to say something. I sent her the longest email, the gist of which was “it’s fine, me too”. I was so happy when she replied and suggested collaborating; inviting me to write for her lovely blog. I just love the body image series she’s created, and I’m so thrilled to be a part of it. 
So, thank you so much to Lucy for allowing me this space to share my body image story, it’s been oddly cathartic to write! 

Today I have been in a high street changing room trying on clothes, which seems a risky time to start up a post on how I feel about my body. However, as I stare (read: evaluate) myself in poor lighting, surrounded by pictures of models in the same too-small jeans I’m trying on, I’m put in mind of the journey I’ve been on when it comes to body image and how I speak to myself. I kind of hate that I’ve just used the word journey there; perhaps roller-coaster would be a better term. 

I say it’s risky because, in previous years, this kind of activity would have resulted in me spending the rest of the day constructing some drastic diet and exercise regime to try and ‘get fit’. In those days, my definition of ‘being fit’ was ‘looking like a model’.  

Thankfully, I can write that in past tense because I no longer feel that way. Does that mean I have no body image issues anymore? Err, no. Like most women, I’ve had a slightly problematic relationship with my own body which has been completely appearance-based. 

I don’t remember when exactly I started disliking the way I looked but it was probably when I was quite young. I realise now that the way our appearance is described or labelled for us as children will influence our body image trajectory. There’s a ton of non-verbal communication we send and receive just by looking at each other. So, as a very little child at primary school, physical descriptors became synonymous with character attributes i.e. I’m small so I must also be mousey, shy, quiet and unassuming. I definitely lived up to that in a self-fulfilling prophecy kind of way. At that age, I was really just learning about what I looked like because, prior to that, it hadn’t been on my radar. My family and the kids I played with on my street were my entire social circle and we never discussed appearance because it just wasn’t important. 

As for most people, secondary school was a different ball game. I was still small, skinny, and straight-up-and-down. I felt wholly unattractive and like a little girl compared to some of the shapelier girls in my year. Feeling that way was a lot to do with hearing how boys talked about girls. Boys liked curves and I didn’t have any. I also had thin, unmanageable hair, acne, and I was still very petite therefore still shy and retiring. 

In secondary school, my relationship with food and exercise was the unhealthiest it has ever been. I dieted constantly. I did the cabbage soup diet, ate baby food, used diet shakes as meal replacements, took fat burners, and ate nothing but celery some days. I forced myself through pointless sit-ups and crunches in an uneducated attempt to blast my supposed tummy fat. Overall, I was completely punishing my body inside for not being what I wanted it to be on the outside. I still have some notebooks from that time which are full of calorie-counts, meal plans and exercise routines I absolutely had to stick to but inevitably didn’t. 


As I grew older, I wish I could say wiser; however, my body image changed again when I started getting into relationships. These juvenile relationships probably had a bigger impact on my self-image than I care to admit. For example, if a guy I was with said he liked a female celebrity, my thoughts would spiral. I’d believe I was unattractive because I look nothing like her and, if that’s what he likes, how can he find me attractive? Logically, I know that celebs and models have a team of people and a ton of money to use on their appearance, so the comparison isn’t fair. I also know that being attractive is not the only thing people have to offer in a relationship. But, self-esteem is not super logical. I have to admit, I’m still not 100% able to extricate my own self-image from what I think someone else feels about me (apologies, current boyfriend, I’m working on it). 

I have always compared myself to other women and it’s only in recent years I really began to unpick the reasons why. In a nutshell, women are always compared to other women by everyone, covertly or otherwise. In much of the conversation I heard concerning women, it was all to do with how one was better than the other for whatever reason. Usually, it came down to attractiveness in the eyes of men. Like most women, I’ve been socialised to believe that my worth lies in my appearance or, at least, that my appearance is an indicator of my worth. Like advertising. 

I still haven’t got to the point where I’m able to stop comparing myself to others all of the time, though I am less inclined to do so as a reflex every time I see another woman. I’d be demented by social media if that were the case. Of course, what I feel about myself is coloured by what I see; whether that’s on TV, real life or Instagram. It’s always been the same, just our ideal has changed. When I was growing up, we were obsessed with being thin, now we’re obsessed with being strong. It’s the same shit, just a different aesthetic. Before, we all felt pressure to be skinny, now we want to be skinny with abs, muscle definition in the arms and legs but not so much we look masculine, a bum that defies logic, and breasts so perfect we can pull in the likes and heart eye emojis for a bikini pic on Instagram. The difference is, for me, that I’m now more about long-term feel-good inside as well as out rather than fighting enjoyment to get visible results and nothing more. Also, ‘perfect’ does not have a single definition. 

I have made huge progress in appreciating my body and doing the right thing by it. I love what my body has done for me and I’m astounded by just how specifically and exactly my body works. I appreciate it on a cellular level, which is pretty special. 

I appreciate that my body has dragged me through exams I dreaded. It didn’t give up on me during my first 5K run. It has fought countless colds and minor illnesses and is currently attempting to thwart a less-minor one. After the way I’ve treated it over the years, I feel now that the least I can do is support it in any way I can. I can honestly say I love my body now. I feed it what it needs. I nourish it, I don’t punish it. I know that I get out what I put in. Really, it’s a move from hatred to gratitude which has only come to my awareness in the last couple of years. 

I’m grateful for my soft tummy which allows me to bend and stretch, and my strong legs which always give a little more during workouts and keep me stable in my yoga practice. My tired feet have walked thousands of miles over my lifetime, taking me to wonderful places. My perpetually-cold hands have held those of my best friends and beloved family members during the happiest and saddest of times. My eyes and my smile are kind and comforting to those who know me. Yes, I could reel off a list of things I’d like to look different but, the point is, I’m able to see the good now, too. 

I wish I could tell you exactly how I got to this point. There is no one way for everyone, and no set pace for this kind of discovery. However, there are some big achievements I can pinpoint and say “yep, that’s when it started to change”. One of those things was finding exercise that I loved. I hated sports and I was not good at any, but that’s all we did at school so I never moved my body. I never realised what it could do. When I left school, I found weight training, swimming, dancing, Pilates, countryside walks, exercise to music classes and yoga practice. I moved my body in ways that felt good. It brought me joy and I started to need that movement to feel happy and comfortable. I learned about what fuels me. I discovered a passionate interest in nutrition, to the point that I’ve been able to turn it into a career.  



I’m now in a place where I understand that my body does not define me. Yes, it’s a big part of who I am and an even bigger part of my quality of life, but it is not everything. My body doesn’t tell you anything about my intelligence, kindness, empathy, generosity, values or health. It holds all of that information and more, but you can’t tell from the outside. It’s like that image that does the rounds on Pinterest now and again: “you have fat, you are not fat. You also have fingernails, but you are not fingernails”. And, if that doesn’t resonate with you too much, just think about how you talk about you and your body. Chances are, you say something like “I have a body” rather than “I am a body” which tells you that, somewhere in there, you know that your body is not everything that you are. It does not define you. 

I don’t know how to fully stop comparing myself to others or to completely accept that I’m good the way I am but, I’m hoping that, like my journey from punishment to nourishment, it will come soon enough. There’s that word journey again. It is not a linear progression. I don’t think anyone goes from not OK to OK forever. There are ups and downs and one step forward, two steps back, sometimes. Sometimes, you think you’ve got it and you look and feel amazing then the next day something can completely derail your confidence and you’re cursing your body again. 

I’m just trying to be kind to myself in all ways. I know how much I’ve overcome to be where I am and I can forgive myself for the slip-ups and the unhealthy thoughts I do still have. It’s sort of like how my mum used to talk to my sister and I when we’d say nasty things to each other. Only, instead of my mum it’s my own inner monologue and, instead of me and my sister it’s me and my body. “That wasn’t a very nice thing to say, now, was it? You’re supposed to love each other”. I apologise and we move on, just trying to be better to each other. 

I’m glad I’m not completely self-conscious anymore. I’m glad I’m not starving myself, eating the wrong things, and punishing myself through exercise. I’m glad that I care less what other people think. I’m glad that I’m now in a place where I’m incredibly grateful for my body and what it has done so far, what it’s put up with, and what it will continue to do for me in the future. I think, when it comes to body image, I will be a constant work in progress. But I know now that my body is not to blame.

****
Thank you so much to this very lovely lady for writing such a wonderful post, I think we can all resonate with what she had to say (I nodded along so hard I think I gave myself an injury!). 

Here is where you can find more about the beautiful Tabitha, go and show her some love:
Blog: The North Left (follow her on Bloglovin')

Before we go, just a reminder that the lovely Peta did a guest post in this series too, which was so wonderful, so click right here if you missed it!

If you have a story you would like to share for this series I would LOVE to hear from you, just drop me an email to fromlucywithlove@outlook.com and I will get back to you! <3
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17 June 2018

WEEKLY GRATITUDE



Guys, I have a confession to make; as I sit here, starting to type this post, I am in somewhat of a heavenly food cloud, we have just had a super delicious pizza from Marks and Spencers, and I have had all kinds of yummy food today (by the way I write most of this post on Saturday afternoons, just in case you thought I had already had pizza before breakfast or something). I'm having a treat filled weekend and then finding my back to a maintenance plan with my food and training, having embarked on twelve whole weeks of being 'good' (I hate the word good for that but I couldn't think of anything else!). It has felt nice to have some treats though, but I am feeling all the bloated feelings right now!

How has your week been? Did you catch Wednesdays blog post? I wrote a bit of a raw one about how my recent mental health state has been, so if that is up your street then have a little read! Thankfully I am feeling more human this weekend, which is great because I was in a bad place this time last week.

Before I go onto the gratitude list / things that have happened this week I just want to let you know that Wednesdays post will be the third installment in my Body Stories series and it really is a good read, so be sure you stop by. In the meantime if you missed part one (my story) and part two (Petas story) then please do check them out and leave a comment to say what you think. Finally: if you want to add your story to this whole series then email me on fromlucywithlove@outlook.com because I am still looking for more lovely people to contribute (you can remain totally anonymous if you prefer, that is absolutely fine).

Okay, enough waffling Lucy, let's get into the reason we are here!

:: This week, in a desperate attempt to push myself into leaving the house (other than my usual visits to the gym) I embarked upon a few morning walks. I was initially motivated to walk the few metres up the road to look out to the bay due to the appearance of the new aircraft carrier, the Queen Elizabeth, being moored there; she is a huge ship that's for sure. I have done a whole post about my morning walks which is coming up soon enough (with a video too!) so I won't say too much about them, other than they help clear my mind, put me into a state of mindfulness and connection with our planet that nothing else can achieve so quickly.



:: I picked up the proofs of my latest wedding stationery collection from my printers in Penzance this week and I am very happy with them! The Fern collection will be making its debut pretty soon; I am due to give the go ahead for the full print run to the printers on Monday and all I need to do from there is photos and descriptions for the website and I am good to go! If you are interested in knowing more about anything I do over at Leaf Lane Studio then please join the Leaf Lane Studio Love Notes and you will receive updates, freebies, discounts and be the first to hear of new things that are coming up!

:: On the subject of stuff I create I have popped a tab on this blog which links to the bits I sell over on Leaf Lane Studio because, well, why not! I am super busy trying to learn all the things about owning a business, which are many, whilst also trying to earn enough money to get new products out for you guys (such as the 'to-do' list pictured above!) and so any opportunity I have to shout about the things I am doing I will do that... I would say 'sorry', but this business thing is hard work (but I love it anyway!). That all said, you guys really are incredibly supportive so I can't thank you enough for that.

:: It dawned on me the other day just how long my Amazon wish-list of books is (it really is all books!). Peta and I were having a little message about the book she was reading and I had just been looking at my list of books stored on my favourite website (!) and so I saw that as a 'sign from the universe' (read 'excuse') to buy myself two from my list! I have started reading one, even though I am still finishing another book, but I am in the head space for the new one, so what the hell! I treated myself to 'Body Positive Power' by Megan Jayne Crabbe (known on Instagram as 'Bodyposipanda'), a book that I think is 100% a must read for all women. I also ordered 'You are Badass: How to stop doubting your greatness and start living an awesome life' by Jen Sincero. This book had been on my wish-list since it was released but I hadn't felt the need to order it yet, then I was looking at my list and re-read the synopsis and thought 'yeah...maybe'; the following day at the gym, whilst pedaling away on the xtrainer and listening to Kate Taylor's 'Practical Magic' podcast, I heard an interview where they couldn't stop discussing the amazing book they had read and, yes, it was Jen Sincero's book... ordered! I will type some mini-reviews when I have read both!


:: This next thing I am typing in before it has even happened, that's how grateful I am for it happening! Tonight Joe and I are going out for dinner to one of our favourite places; the last time we went out for dinner was my birthday in February, so it will be nice and I am so looking forward to indulging a little.

:: We have a 'new set' of baby sparrows in the nests along the front of the house and they wake super early 'beeping' away at the top of their lungs. It is so lovely watching them grow up and be fed by their parents and hop about in the garden.

That's about all for this week I think; I am hoping and praying that this rain we have stops soon as I had plans to cut the grass this weekend (picture an over-grown field and you'll be close to what we have going on outside right now). In the meantime I will just stay inside and shelter from the drizzle, whilst Gizmo chills in her little cat-house in the garden, watching the birds but being too lazy to move (thankfully). I hope you all have an amazing rest of weekend (or week if you aren't reading this on Sunday!).

Make sure you come back on Wednesday to read another 'Body Story' by another fantastic lady who kindly jumped on board the 'guest post' series, which I am so grateful for. Don't forget to email me if you would be happy to help out other women who would benefit from reading your story, just contact me on fromlucywithlove@outlook.com - I would love you to be a part of it.
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13 June 2018

I LOVE ANIMALS BUT...


^^ I love this quote so much, I can't find an original source but this was from Pinterest ^^


... the black dog is not welcome!

*please do not read this post if mental health just isn't your 'thing', pop back on Sunday for a 'Weekly Gratitude' instead!

(Just to create a bit of context before you read this: I wrote this post on Saturday and am starting to feel a little better now, but I like to share these experiences anyway as I feel they are super important. If you need help for anything mental health related please see your GP, or if you are in desperate need of help call '111' or '999', do not be afraid to reach out for help).

Sometimes I write posts after I have had a bit of a strange old time with my mental health and reflect on how I felt, what I did to make it better etc, but right now I am writing this right in the middle of a pretty terrible time. Over the last few weeks I have felt my mood starting to dip; it's been super slow and gradual, which is the worst; when that happens you don't realise it so much, not until you are standing at the bottom of a dark old hole, looking up. 

The positive thing with this situation is that I think I know why I feel like this at least. A few weeks ago I went to the doctors and spoke about reducing my medication; I was feeling so much brighter and more consistent within myself that I just wanted to try to ease off the meds and try life without them. That is the annoying thing with medication, it fools you into thinking that you have got better, that you are cured from this strange old illness and back to 'normal', turns out that it is not always the case (crap!). The short story is that I have now chosen to go back up to the dose of my current medication and just suck it up that I have to have it to function, which is very frustrating but apparently necessary! 

Mental health is such a difficult entity isn't it? It's something that I honestly think we will never quite get to grips with. If, like me, what you have is kind of a blip in your wiring (rather than being due to a trauma you have experienced) I think it is harder to understand because you wonder why you have it, where did it come from and how you get rid of it. The worst days for me are days like today where I can't find the energy to put one foot in front of the other or the enthusiasm for anything I would normally want to do. For me, someone who trains regularly, loves to be outdoors, enjoys being creative, and all the other things that I am passionate about, it is really strange to be struck almost numb with the feeling of depression. I can sit out in the garden, a place where I usually find so magical, and feel like it is the worst place in the world. In fact, in the middle of a day like today, there are no 'right' places at all, nowhere comforting, no where safe or welcoming.

Because I have had this for years now, I have the insight to realise that as sh*tty as this feels right now, that it will pass soon and all of my motivation will return. In the mean time it is just about focusing on each minute, rather than hour, and not letting the niggles that you push to the back of your mind step forward and take centre stage because, if they are going to taunt you it will be now, at this vulnerable kind of time.

For anyone who doesn't understand why I write about this stuff (because there are plenty of people who do question it) then all I can say is that I truly believe in helping people feel like they are not alone in their suffering and that even people with the biggest smiles on their faces can be in the darkest of places (that is such an important thing to remember!).

If I could give any advice I would just say this: if you need medication, yes it can be frustrating, but if it helps you function then you may (like me) just have to go with it and see how you get on because it is not worth feeling total despair when you can have help. Also, and this is super important, reach out to someone who can help you; this may not always be a friend or family member, it may be more appropriate for you to seek professional help, but whatever works for you is the way forward. Just keep on talking and, on the really bad days make sure you are super kind and gentle with yourself, try not to get angry with yourself (although I truly know how hard that is) and remember, above anything else, that it is an illness, so don't think you are abnormal, just embrace what and who you are and work hard on finding ways that you can make yourself feel better. It takes work but it is totally worth it and, when you get your medication right and the self care balance right you can reduce your 'bad' days significantly and the ratio of good to bad becomes so much better, I promise.
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10 June 2018

WEEKLY GRATITUDE


^^ A hazy Sennen Cove this morning ^^

When I sit on Sunday evenings, watching The Handmaids Tale, I always think 'damn, I have to wait a whole week to see what happens now', but the week shoots by and here we are again! I must confess that I don't have a whole heap of things to share this week as I have had a pretty terrible week (more on that on Wednesdays post perhaps) so I will keep it short today, but I do have a new vlog for you, so maybe that will make up for it! It is a very chatty one, but I will try and do more regular, shorter ones again soon as I have actually missed doing them.

Into this weeks list...

:: As you will already know, if you follow along on my Instagram, I received a lovely parcel through the post from Katie Moody on Wednesday. I had ordered a notepad from her new range and some little cat stickers because, well you know... cats! I love getting parcels from small businesses as they are always so thoughtfully put together and personal, which is something I hope that my customers think too when they get something from Leaf Lane Studio!  

:: This week has not been a great week for me, mental health wise, so on Wednesday I did what I do best and cleaned like a woman possessed. For some reason this really helps me to clear a lot of the sh*t out of my mind and acts like a refresh button. I followed the cleaning frenzy with lunch and then an hours sleep. It really is about knowing what works for you personally at times like that and my suggestion is that, however crazy your 'thing' seems, do it! Me channeling my inner Monica Geller is just what happens to work for me in some way or another, and I am grateful for that!

:: Friday was World Oceans Day, and I created a little painting for it (see below!). It was nice to just sit and paint something a little different and it is off to its new home in Devon tomorrow!

:: Super big thanks must go to Peta for her wonderful contribution to my body series blog posts, if you didn't see her post it is a must read, so click right here and go have a look! There are more lovely ladies writing for this series, so stay tuned for more this summer!

:: In the middle of my strange week, I was sitting at my art desk, contemplating my existence (!) and feeling all sorts of body-image related emotions, when a song came on that really cheered me up. Having looked into what song it was I now realise that I have, once again, jumped on the bandwagon as it was leaving! The song was 'This is me' and is from the soundtrack to The Greatest Showman and I bloody love it! I may have to have a little dance about to that song as part of my morning routine if I am ever going to conquer my body issues! Do you have any uplifting songs that get you instantly motivated? Let me know!

:: This morning, after a very bad day yesterday, Joe dragged my backside out the cottage for a walk on Sennen beach; it was very much needed and so beautiful. I love feeling the sand under my feet and the waves lapping over them, it is always so calming and restoring. We got up and over to Sennen about 9am, before the craziness of the day kicked in (which just isn't something I can handle right now!). Sometimes it takes a big old effort to get out and about after 'one of those days' (weeks actually), but I am so very grateful I went!

That is all for my little list today but if you want to listen to more of what I got up to, then scroll right to the bottom of this post, past the beautiful Sennen pictures, to see this weeks vlog! I would love it if you could subscribe to my YouTube Channel too, it is growing slowly so the more the merrier!

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6 June 2018

'DEAR BODY' | GUEST POST BY PETA (PE-TA.COM)



Welcome back to my little 'Body Stories' series, if you missed the first one I will link it at the end of this post for you; for now I will keep the intro to today's post super short because I really want you to get stuck right on into this, it made me cry and I honestly think it is so beautifully written.

Today's body story comes from the absolutely gorgeous Peta, from the blog pe-ta.com; you guys will know by now how much I love this lady, she is a beautiful human, with such a kind heart and soul, so I was very happy when she said 'yes' to writing something for this series, thank you Peta! Be sure to head over to her social media and show her some love once you have read this (all the places you can find Peta are linked at the bottom of this post). Over to Peta...

*****

When Lucy popped a message over enquiring if I'd be up for writing a guest blog post on something to do with the body in a positive light, I jumped at the chance. I'm one of those half a cup full kinda cat mums who likes to view the world with her rose tinted glasses firmly in place. Despite those gorgeous specs, it doesn't mean I don't have my own body hang ups. In fact, I've got bucket loads of them... I mean in this day and age, quite honestly, who doesn't? After a bit of umming and arring over a cup of tea as to what I was going to tip tap away on my little laptop, I decided a letter to my body would rival anything I could ever pen in regards to experiences with self love. Particularly, as the way I speak to my body is changing and evolving every day in a favourable way. Maybe it's just the tea talking, maybe it's to do with my age...maybe all of those podcasts I've been listening to are rubbing off on me. I shan't dwell on the why for too long... I don't want to jinx it. 

I'm sat at my kitchen table, with a steaming cup of tea in my most favourite cat mug with a cat on my knee (Katie) and another on the chair next to me (Albert). Bon Iver is playing quietly on one of the very few (shockingly!) tabs open on my browser - the other is the thesaurus so I can sound somewhat like a writer. Now we've got the intro over, and you’re aware of the setting, I think we had better begin. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to write about something which is rather close to my heart Lucy. You're wonderful. 



Dear Body, 

We've had a bit of a tough ride you and I, throughout our childhood we were teased for having chubby legs and a podgy tummy. That poor tummy was often very sick. Those poor legs did their very best in carrying you to and from school. In running across the field and doing rollypollies down the hill at Mount Edgecumb. In Primary School our knees, ankles, elbows, fingers, everything really, ached. It all ached, but we didn't really know how to articulate that. It’s growing pains we were told, over and over again. Gosh, if growing felt like this, we hoped there wasn’t much more to go. 

As the teen years approached you blossomed quickly, you stopped growing upwards at twelve, you were tall for twelve they said, like a little giraffe. Turns out that same tall for twelve was rather small for sixteen and kinda cute at twenty - phew. You did however grow outwards at twelve, 28DDs flanked your fifteen year old otherwise small frame. The pains continued, those growing pains that actually...maybe they weren’t growing pains after all… maybe it was arthritis the doctor said. 

At sixteen your boobs were ginormous let’s not lie, you struggled to find ANY bras to fit you never mind something an eighteen year old would want to wear. Shoutout to you Bravissimo, you saved the day. Finding clothes to fit your very strange body shape became a struggle. We discovered yoga which seemed to help that pain, which was apparently arthritis. We got a job upon leaving school and worked hard in an office for four years. Sat down all day snacking didn’t do us good at all. Not only did we gain A LOT of weight, the pain was worse, and the poorly tummy was pretty much uncontrollable. 

I was rather terrible to you during those four years, probably for a little longer than that if we’re going to be honest here. You frustrated me beyond despair. WHY couldn’t I fit into the size four clothes my friends could. Why didn’t dresses just drape and flow like they did on them? Why did I look like THAT in a bikini?! Why did men talk to my boobs? I poked and prodded you, I’d stand in front of the mirror in knickers that were too tight and had most certainly seen better days with an over the shoulder boulder holder fit for a granny and criticise you - nothing was good enough… actually scratch that, nothing was good. Period. 



During this time of body shaming - albeit only in my head, we also saw the doctor on a regular basis. They couldn’t work out why we were in so much pain. They poked and prodded you too. It took years and years of poking and prodding until we had any kind of answer. I was awful about you, I spoke nastily behind your back… well kinda, it saddens me to think you’d have heard the things I said. “Why can’t I have a normal body? Why am I like this? Why does it hurt so much?” I hate this. I hate my body. I hate my legs. I hate my tummy which can’t hold down food. I hate it so much. I just want to be normal. As if normal is a thing, something obtainable. Something everyone else just is… ha! 

The self loathing continued, I couldn’t take a compliment, I couldn’t bear it when anyone said ANYTHING kind about you. How dare they?! Why were they patronising us by lying to my face?! It was only at the age of twenty three, when we came across a lump in our neck that we got quite the rude awakening. Suddenly I was ever so protective over you. The doctors wanted to do all manner of tests. We stopped being a human being, we just became a body that was picked at and probed endlessly. They called it a tumour. I called it Norris… it made it easier to talk about. Norris was making us very bloody poorly. You couldn’t tolerate any kind of food and lost twenty kilos in weight. You were now that size four I desperately wanted you to be years ago, you looked awful. So pale, so boney, so withdrawn. So ill. 

I was told the operation could leave me without the use of my legs. Those podgy legs I’d hated so much during my childhood. The legs I’d poked and prodded. Pinched at and tightly pulled the skin at to see what I’d look like with ‘thin’ legs. The legs that were squeezed into jeans that were a size too small. I agreed to the operation, there was no other solution they said. When I came around, the first thing I did was wiggle my toes, I can’t tell you how grateful I was for those legs. 

I pushed you to recover quickly, it was my way of being in control. The doctor advised six weeks of bedrest, we - by we I mean you and I Body, agreed on three days. The doctor said it normally takes six months to fully recover from the operation. I shrugged and said “I’m not normal though.” The doctor smiled at me. “You most certainly are not.” he replied. We were fully recovered from the op in less than half of the time. This whole not being ‘normal’ was beginning to grow on me. 

I know that I was really hard on you during recovery, having to be physically helped into bed, into the shower, just to walk from our bed to the kitchen was not something I was gracious at. Whilst I plastered a ‘Can Do’ look on my face, I know I probably sounded like a very angry sports coach inside as I berated you for needing to cling onto something, someone. Either a wall or my sister. Thanks Sis! 

You were diagnosed with EDS - Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. It affects the body tissue everywhere - your skin, your vital organs, your ligaments and tendons. It means that on a good day you are hyper flexible and can do anything a fit and healthy sixteen year old could do. It also means that on a bad day my ninety year old grandad is more mobile than you. Yet, going through the years of hospital visits made me so proud of you. So bloody proud.

“I’d expect in a normal evolution of the type of EDS you have, that you’ll be in a wheelchair by the time you’re thirty.” Said the doctor, hands clasped on his desk, looking somewhat remorseful but mainly rather matter of fact. “Good thing I’m not normal then” I replied for the second time. We were also told that the ongoing vomiting and upset tummy was something we just had to accept and live with. The tumours would come...and go, sometimes they wouldn’t go. The heart palpitations would continue and all manner of symptoms could pop up at any given time. 

I went home and researched everything I could. Changes had to be made. What I fed you had to have a complete overhaul and so a journey on learning what I could and couldn’t feed you began. Then came the exercise - what could we do, what couldn’t we do. Everything changed. I’d gone from dispising you just a few years before, to desperately wanting to take care of you. I learned about energy management, how far I could push you without paying for the consequences for a week afterwards - in all honesty I’m still learning that one. I learned that, just as we found at sixteen, yoga is always a good idea. Be it a full on, high intensity hour long yoga session on a good day, or a very gentle calming chair yoga session on a bad day. I learnt to be so grateful for you. That you were willing to work with me and I was able to find kindness from within to take care of you and appreciate you for what you are.  

I learned that the weather heavily influenced pain levels. That cold water is never a good idea, that warm water - with the added bonus of bubbles always is. Unfortunately we learned the cold water thing the hard way, challenging our best friend, who is now our other half, to see who could last the longest in a 3’c swimming pool. Turns out, unsurprisingly, not us. 

Cold and damp or hot and humid days make your joints seize up. Getting coins out of your purse or doing up your coat becomes as challenging as a sudoku...and we both know I don’t get along well with sudoku. It’s okay though. I’ve learned to smile politely at the person at the check out and apologise… or thank the sweet heavens above for the new contact card pay thingymajig. As for the coat thing, sometimes we have to stay in the coat for a while when we get home until our hands are warm. Which is fine. Leaving the kettle with enough water and a cup with a tea bag next to it before I go to work in the morning, means that this happens rather efficiently now. Not so many kitchen floor meltdowns which is always a bonus. 



I’m rather into gratitude writing at the moment Body, so here’s a little gratitude to you. Thank you for walking me to work every single day - sometimes zig zagging between passers by, flying past mums pushing pushchairs and dashing across the zebra crossing as the green man flashes. Other times a little slower, limping, having to put up with my lack of confidence in crossing the road if I think the green man could flash. Patiently taking each step as it comes and getting me there safely. 

Thank you for those strong arms which carry armfuls of shopping in from the car. Which lift the kids up at work spinning them around and around. Which carry box loads of props and costume on a good day or give someone a huge hug for helping us on a bad day. Side note: hugs are the best, we need to give more.

Thank you for strong pretty nails, for fingers which happily type away on a good or bad day. For showing me when I’m lacking in something : sleep, vitamins, iron, water… Thank you for fighting. For never giving up, even when I had given up on you.  

Thank you to those legs, which are often stuck under a snoozing cat. Thank you to those feet which dance barefoot on the kitchen tiles whilst listening to glee songs and those toes which enable us to be on tiptoes and reach the high shelf in the kitchen. Thank you for those teeth which make a smile a real smile. Those eyes that see the very best in others, always. Thank you for a waistline which is continuously changing depending on our health, which I have learned to love however flat or podgy it may be. Thank you for lungs that fill up with air and can swim great distances underwater and bellow out my favourite tunes. Thank you for a liver that probably took quite the battering during those teen years of nightclubbing and tequila sampling.

Thank you for that thumb and index finger that clasp around a cup handle effortlessly as I devour yet another cup of tea. Thank you for those cheeks that snuggle into furry tummies and those lips that kissed our life long best friend...inevitably making him our other half. Thank you for that nose which knows the smell of home, takes delight in the smell of the sea or a homemade pasty -  it’s the Cornish girl in us I’m sure. Thank you for those ears which make it possible to listen to beautiful songs. Thank you for that heart, which is so full of love for you, for our friends and family. Thank you for being the home for me, your soul who believes that she picked this body for a reason. Thank you for teaching me how to be understanding, empathetic, kind, loving and above all patient.

Thank you.

Thank you so much Peta, those are the words that will bring up so much emotion in so many others going through their own battles and I truly believe that sharing our own stories really helps so many others. Guys, please go and show Peta some love over on her...

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If you missed the first post in the series than you can find it right here. Finally, if you would like to share your story then please email me on fromlucywithlove@outlook.com (you can remain anonymous if you want and write about any body-related experience you choose!).

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5 June 2018

MAKE: CORNWALL


^^ Maker - Wendy Wilbraham's gorgeous work/studio ^^

In a vlog I will be popping up on my YouTube channel soon, I mention how I don't like to advertise other peoples things unless they are something that is totally in alignment with what I love; something that I have a genuine passion for. That is why I am putting up an extra post this week just to help two lovely ladies in Cornwall get their project out there to more people (and it truly is a lovely project!).

'Make: Cornwall' is the brainchild Anya Rice, a photographer and stylist, and Katherine Sorrell, a freelance writer who has also written 22 books (I bow down to you Katherine!). These two lovely ladies, both living in Cornwall, dreamed about putting together a book about all things hand made by passionate and talented creatives living in this beautiful, magical county.


Cornwall has such a hugely diverse range of makers and artists and their vision is to raise enough, via Crowd Funder, to enable their book to become a reality and, I have to say, it would 100% be something I would jump at the chance of buying if I saw it in a book shop!

You can see more about the project by clicking right here, but here is a little quote from their Crowd Funder page, along with some gorgeous images too...

'Make:Cornwall offers a secret peek into our makers' work spaces (whether a converted barn, garden shed or modern, town-centre studio), their tools and techniques and their making processes, with glorious photos of their finished products and lists of where to see and buy, as well as beautiful portraits of the makers themselves and the landscapes that surround them.'

As a very new creative business myself, I am so happy to share this with you guys as, supporting small businesses is so important and vital in order to keep the uniqueness of hand made goods thriving. In a world where there is so much copying and 'quick art' by huge corporate chains it is totally necessary for projects like this to thrust creatives back into the forefront of our minds.

To support the book just head to their page and donate a little bit of money, everything will help this project towards its goal; they also have some pretty fantastic pledge packages, which give you a copy of the book and items created by the talented makes involved too. If, like me, all things handmade light you up and fill you with happiness please just take a look at what they have put together, the photographs are so beautiful and inspiring and, if you know of anyone who may wish to support 'Make: Cornwall' then please tell them all about it!

^^ Maker - Wendy Wilbraham ^^

^^ Maker - Amy Isles Freeman ^^

^^ Maker - Alice Selwood ^^

^^ Maker - 'Pica Pica Design Co' ^^

^^ Maker - 'Lancaster & Cornish' ^^

^^ Maker - 'Paper Birch' ^^
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3 June 2018

WEEKLY GRATITUDE



June, you little monkey, you really crept up on me. I can't believe we are on the sixth month of the year already, how can it be so? As the man on Pirate FM said this week (gotta love local radio!), once the summer holidays are over it'll be all Halloween and fireworks and then the Christmas stuff will be arriving in the shops (it made me laugh to think about how early things get thrust into our lives these days... on Boxing day it's all about the Easter eggs for heavens sake!). Anyway, rant over, it is summer and I am loving the warmth that seems to have arrived. We had one seriously humid day this week and I absolutely loved it! I think I enjoy those sort of days now I am working at home and can get dressed in any random outfit that is comfortable, verses having to actually look professional! There is always a magic in the air on days where it's humid and you can 'feel' the heaviness; call me insane, but I love it!

Thank you to those of you that got in touch with me about my new 'Body Stories' series, I have had some lovely feedback on the first one and can't wait for you guys to read the next one, which will be up on Wednesday next week. I am really looking for a few more stories, so if you are willing (you can remain anonymous if you prefer, I am fine with that) just get in touch on fromlucywithlove@outlook.com. I honestly think that sharing our story helps others feel less alone and more confident, so get in contact with me girlies (or guys of course, you are more than welcome too!).

On with today's list!

:: This week I dedicated such a huge part of my time to painting. I have been feeling beyond exhausted in my mind and body and so, when I feel like that, I really enjoy losing myself in something creative. I have been working on a new, bespoke, offering for Leaf Lane Studio and will be putting it on my website next week (fingers crossed).


^^ Personalised water-colour paintings for any occasion you wish, soon available on Leaf Lane Studio ^^

:: Yesterday I made some proper progress in the garden (that is twice this week I have 'attacked' the garden!). Our garden is a proper cottage garden, with mature trees and plants but also many wildflowers and other things that seem to grow up overnight. I love the garden and always try to keep it looking as nice as possible but it really is a full time job! We have some beautiful red, yellow and pink roses coming out, gladioli's, thistles on their way, wild sweet peas and many other pretty blooms about to burst open; I feel so lucky to be surrounded by nature every day.

:: This morning Joe and I took a walk around the gardens of one of my all time favourite local National Trust places, Godolphin House. You guys will have heard me chatter on about that place before no doubt, but I just think it is so magical. Today's visit had me overwhelmed because of how many gorgeous flowers, ferns and birds were about; it is a must see if you are ever over this way. If you go there for when it opens (usually 10am I believe) then you are more than likely to be alone in the grounds, with just the sounds of the birds and resident bees for company. I could spend hours there, sketching, thinking, writing... just 'being', it is somewhere that I connect with happiness and calm.



^^ The beautiful 'Kings Garden' at Godolphin House ^^


:: I have now officially sold all the one-off gouache paintings I did recently (see them here and get in touch if you want to commission me, I will gladly paint something for you!). Thank you so much if you bought one, that money is going to be put towards my new wedding collection and a Christmas collection of cards too I think!

:: This week, whilst in Morrisons buying something totally random, I picked up some of their own brand dark chocolate and mint rice cakes to try for a treat. They were so yummy that I gobbled the whole lot (before you think there were like twenty in a packet... there were six!). In my defense, I had just had a very intense lower body work out, done 10 intervals on the stepmill AND 25 minutes of steady state cardio too; in my book that equals 'I can eat all the rice cakes'!

:: We have been watching the Harry Potter series recently (again), they are just so great for escapism or distraction when you are super tired and hungry (me 99% of the day!). I love having an 'HP' on in the background whilst I am writing in my Bullet Journal or sketching some ideas out! What is your 'go-to' film?

:: One of the podcasts I listen to on a fairly regular basis is Creative Peptalk, by Andy J Pizza. The podcast is great if you are a creative and need a little bit of encouragement but, yesterday, Andy put the cutest ever picture on his Instagram, so I thought I would share it with you below, how sweet is that? I kind of want it as a postcard or print on my desk, I just love it!



That's all for this weeks Gratitude List guys and girls, I hope you have a wonderful rest of day and I will be back on Wednesday with the second blog post in my Body Stories series, this time it is Peta's story (and it is a real good'un!).
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